World Watercolor Month challenge days 1-4

Hello all.   July is World Watercolor Month and the challenge created by  Doodlewash is to do something in watercolor or gouache every day of the month. 

Normally I wouldn’t do a challenge like this but as you can see I haven’t been painting or posting as often as I’d like.   In deciding to do this I’ve chosen to use a 5.5×8.5″ Strathmore pad in 140# cold press.   My goal in keeping the paper size small is that I will be more likely to succeed in completing a new piece each day and try new techniques out.

So far four days in I’m doing okay. So without further ado here are days 1-4.

Day 1, a misty mountain sketch
Day 2, a calm beach
Day 3, a frigid icy beach done entirely in Prussian Blue
Day 4, a desert landscape

I’m quite pleased with how these turned out. Is anyone else doing the challenge?

Until I post the next pieces.

Do art.

Clark

Third in the series

Here’s the third piece from my three color series. I used Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Yellow Ochre only on them. They’ve been quite fun to do and I’ve even reduced them down to fit as covers to differentiate between my different Travelers Notebook inserts.

Rather than write a whole bunch I’m just going to post the process photos and let them do the talking.

Background wash
Some trees to push the background back.
Defining the midground
Moving to the foreground
Finished

It’s been really fun working with these three colors. They’ve allowed some wonderful vibrancy to the work. I’m not sure if I’ll continue further with the series or if I’ll move on to some other colors.

Thanks for following along.

Remember, do art.

Clark

Now What?

Here is my latest painting.   I don’t like it.  After a couple that I love…this one… this one…I don’t know.   My wife said it’s not you.   Were you fighting with the trees?  I think she’s right.   I spent a week fiddling with it.   It just doesn’t want to get any better.  It kicked my butt.

Blah

The background ended up too light and lacked enough of the sky colors to pull it in.

Why is it so white?!?

The midground just feels muddy and got worse when I attempted to add shadows.

The foreground… well it just feels green and flat.  Not what I wanted.

Oh well,  live and learn.   I think my real problem was that I refused to clean my palette and kept working in the muck.  It needs a good cleaning badly.

So where to go from here?  Honestly I’m not sure.   But I’m sure the paper and paint will tell me.

Do art.

Clark

Light without dark…

Here is my latest piece.   I started it and then put it down for a week because I was stuck.

It started out so strong and there was so much different between the colors in the distance and the white of the paper… but what to put there.  I always like doing the background.   The objects are simple and it leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination.  

Such a expanse of pristine white…I hate to spoil it.

This is where it say for a week.   Me afraid to mess it up.   The vibrant tones playing against the whiteness…most nights just before, or maybe after falling asleep my brain would startle me to wakefulness with a “what about this?!?” moment but in the light of day I would fret over the idea and dismiss it.   This morning I decided that I needed some bare trees in the midground so I added them during my lunch hour (working from home).

Oh,  I like this,  they feel very nice.

This evening I decided to tackle the foreground.  I feared that I would use up all the white and lose those wonderful whites but I think I managed it.

Finished

What do you think?  I think I’ll do some more in this series.

Do art.

Clark

Glowing Road

This is a piece I did earlier this week. Working on using enough pigment to create a glow in the piece. Just a country road in the winter as the sun is on the horizon getting all those wonderful purples, reds and oranges in there. I’m quite happy with it. 10.14″ on Legion Stonehenge Aqua cold press with Winsor & Newton paints.

Enjoy and keep painting.

Clark

On Tutorials and Learning

Yesterday YouTube listed a painting tutorial posted by David Smith called Mastering the Mist. I’ve watched a few other of his videos and they are really enjoyable but when I watched them I wasn’t consistent in my art and just looked at his techniques as “someday” skills.

So last night after dinner I cracked open a pint of Holidaily Favorite Blonde GF beer (if you have gluten issues I highly recommend their beers) and set off to use his techniques to make my own version of the painting he did. I think it’s important when doing a tutorial to not sit there stiffly trying to exactly copy what the instructor has created while watching the video. In general they move through the painting quickly and you can easily get lost. In my opinion it’s better to watch/read through it a couple times so that you can prepare for it and then do it on your own. It will inevitably leave you feeling lacking in skill rather than pleased with your own growth. It also allows you to adapt when things go wrong…

I was cruising through the painting and surprised at how well I was doing.

This is so not my style… wait, do I have a style?

David uses a spray bottle to splatter clean water on his paintings a lot. I was trying to do the same. I own two spray bottles. One super cheap Walmart special that splatters and sputters. The other from Ikea produces a fine mist so I was using the Walmart one and after years of use I discovered that the top is only held on by a single revolution of threads and its easy to tighten past it causing the reservoir full of water to fall off. You might see where I’m going with this. While splattering the bottom came loose, fell, and soaked the painting. Oh, the horror!

After cleaning it up some of the paint had lifted off and trees didn’t look like trees any more. The good thing about tutorials is that it’s all about learning, like how do I paint over the ruined trees? Good practice.

I eventually completed the painting and showed my family. My wife said “This is so not you. It’s COOL!” I’m going to take it as a complement.

I learned a lot about lifting paint and using lots of pigment. I never seem to use enough.

I hope you like this and check out David Smith’s work.

Keep painting,

Clark

Finished tutorial

Peaceful lake in progress and musings

Good evening (or morning, afternoon) everyone. I’ve started working on a piece that’s a little outside my comfort zone about a week ago. Trying to grow in my art. I normally avoid painting man-made objects but I decided to go ahead and work on improving those skills.

The object of this painting is a small lake surrounded by trees with a dock and a rowboat in it. Definitely not my normal subject matter but I’m working on my skills and process so here we go. First a sketch…

I actually looked at reference photos and everything. Side note.: this was the last sheet of paper in this sketchbook. The previous sketchbook lasted several years. This one less than a year.

Then came the background washes and layers. So many layers…

Initial wash

Then I added the background trees. I always get nervous about these. Too light, too dark, too much detail?

Initial background trees. I made sure to lightly draw a line where the far bank would be to keep it from leaning.

Then I added the water and reflections. It always feels difficult to get them right. I often see other artists that create these perfect reflections… not me apparently. I always feel they need to be done in a single wash to avoid muddling the water(pun intended).

Reflections on the water and some washes in the foreground

Next I added some more sky, darkened the lower part of the background foliage and the dock and row boat.

Working on the boat, dock, and the water, a little something extra for the sky

Next I added the background washes the foreground trees and their foliage. The trunks you always want to think about how you want the ball to look. Where the sun is coming from. Where your highlights will be. When it comes to the foliage I always say silent prayer when I do these because I’m never quite sure how to do it. It’s something that I need to do a million times if I want to get it right. When I look at other artists works on social media the majority of the beginner to intermediate artists tend to do bare trees. The artists who have mastered foliage seem to have mastered everything they put into their paintings. It’s like the last skill to gain.

Adding more color to the tree trunks.

Here I added texture to the trees and started working on the foliage. I decided that the direction I was headed with the leaves wouldn’t work and stopped to regroup. When working with ink I like to do actual visible leaves along the edges of the leaf mass but that lacks energy with paint it seems.

Texture to the tree trunks, added to the leaves. I aught not have done that

Next I added foreground grasses, stones and pebbles. More texture on the dock and boat. Still avoiding the leaves. I enjoy doing leaves with ink but paint… no.

Foreground, grasses and ground texture. Avoiding the foliage

Okay, I decided to dive into the foliage. It’s really hard to find reference photos for thick foliage between trees. I lifted paint and redid it several times until I was happy with it.

Let’s beat up the foliage and see if that help.

And it’s done. This took me about a week to do stealing s few minutes here and there. Over all I’m happy with it. 10×14 ” Legion Stonehenge hot press 140# and Windsor & Newton paints.

Finis

After spending a week working on it I decided I needed to do something fast, fun, and full of energy so I did the below the evening after I finished the dock. It was refreshing to work quickly without a real plan. The night before as I was lying in bed my mind showed me this image to paint so I needed to get it out.

I hope you liked them. Keep creating

Clark

A nice Saturday’s work

This afternoon I got the chance to work on the piece I wrote about earlier this week.

I started out referring to the photo and thumbnail and doing a sketch my Canson mix media 7×10 sketchbook (I’ve almost finished filling it! This is a rare thing for me) in Dr Ph Martin Bombay ink doing washes and figuring out what I did and didn’t want to include.

Ink sketch: washes, rigger brush and fan brush

After it was completed I moved on to working on the painting. I used mutt last sheet of Legion Stonehenge 10×14″ in hot press. I’ll have to buy another block because it’s so nice to work with.

The washes went down well. The paper didn’t warp. Everything worked out nicely.

While things were drying I started on some bookmarks but those will be another post.

Until next time. Do art.

Clark

First painting of the year

Well…some of the end of the years work as well.

The end of the year was busy and I’d as usual hit a block in my creativity. I guess it isn’t so much a block as a fear of messing up the piece, making ugly art.

A friend posts photos from her morning walks and one of them struck me as beautiful and a good choice for a exercise so I decided to use it as a basis for a painting. I put down the washes, the paper, though taped down, buckled horribly throwing my paint where I didn’t want it. Why oh, why don’t I ever stretch the paper before hand? In frustration I added some salt to it where I thought I wanted it and walked away.

Fast forward a couple weeks I decided to look at it. Ugh, that area’s awful, that shows promise but I felt too tentative to put paint to paper. So I did what I tend to do when this happens. Out comes the sketchbook, pour a liberal amount of ink in these middle and start scrapping and scratching with the nib until it looks like something.

My that looks angry doesn’t it?

Ah, that’s better. So on I moved to finish this painting (finish him! Hehehe, Mortal Combat… sorry, lost focus).

Some rewetting of the background, some fiddling with the background trees, and out comes the rigger brush for stems and it’s done. Finally some completion. As an exercise goes I’m happy with it. I suppose I could crop it down…

Salt flowers on the shore

So on to yesterday’s painting. After taking care of the weekend chores I settled in to paint.

Side note: I sat down to paint with a Beulah Red GF ale from Holidaily Brewing in Golden, CO. If you have gluten issues and love beer see if you can get their beers because they are the most amazing GF beers I’ve ever tried.

Where was I? Oh yes, painting… This time I stretched my paper properly. I put down my washes and discovered that there were scratches on the paper Oh the humanity!

Grrr… well let’s see if we can work around them. Honestly I’ve never experienced scratches from an Arches watercolor pad before. Maybe someone’s kid picked it up, scratched it up and put it back on the shelf. Who knows.

Time to see how I can save the sheet. Preliminary sketching done with watercolor pencil. Just to figure our what can go where. I like to have the initial washes in place first in case they don’t match what I have planned.

Initial sketch

Next I focused on the background between where the trees would be, making sure to lay in the reflections on the water. I have a tendency to forget any form of reflection because it’s water right? It just lays there being blue’ish.

So far so good.

The trees were next. Just base layers and using a rigger to fill in the branches but not too many since there will be foliage.

Trees, water, and sky. What more is there?

Next came some basic foliage. I like to pick 4-6 appropriate colors put them on the palette and get them really wet. Then I work from light to dark using a rigger because for me it adds just the right amount of looseness. I tend not cleaning it between colors as it adds some additional tones and shadows. More glazes on the trunks and branches. I also hit the paper with a hair dryer to speed up the process.

Since the majority of the work is done it was on to the rocks, foliage, additional details for the roots. Back to the trunks and branches.

Majority done…Haha! Does anyone else feel like most of their time is spent adding tiny details that make the painting comes to life? I can get everything almost just right and then sit there fiddling with it for hours.

I had really wanted to add some deer drinking at the water’s edge but the layout of the water didn’t support that. Maybe next time.

Finished painting

The piece is 11×14″ Arches hot press watercolor paper. The paints were a mix of Daniel Smith and Windsor &Newton Artist watercolors. I was sorely tempted to use gouache on it but in the end decided to keep it strictly transparent.

Keep on painting,

Clark